And so it began… On a beautiful autumnal day in the Eastern Suburbs at David Phillips Oval, and due to injuries, sickness, a wedding, and a multitude of less satisfactory excuses, we started the game with the bare 11 and one injured sub and one sub AWOL, though he eventually arrived just after half time!
The first seven or eight minutes looked dire, it was all UNSW as they searched for an opener and had complete control of the game, and we were grateful for the rock at the back that is Chris Neale and his no nonsense defending, clearing the ball whenever it came near him. Then, totally against the run of play, a fine ball into the right channel, let in Neil Baker who skipped down the line striking the ball early, opting for placement rather than power and the ball nestled in the corner of the net. A great early strike and just what we needed. 1 -0.
That completely knocked the confidence of UNSW andfor the rest of the half, it was almost all Barnstoneworth, though admittedly it wasn’t the prettiest sight in the world as we tended to hoof the ball rather than playing the kind of football that the pitch deserved. Dan Taylor was irrepressible in the middle and some great tackles and headers were inexplicably pulled up for fouls which impressed Dan no end!
Finally we managed to get the ball down on the ground and create some chances, a great through ball from young Luke to his right, instantly dismissing the idea that we could start calling him Zoolander, let in Neil again and his first time cross to Barry at the far post was just too far when just a touch was required. Though Neil obviously thought he’d done enough “i crossed that perfectly”.. (i guess that was your fault then Barry)
Comfortable rather than ‘exciting’ was the order of the day for the first half against a strong wind and it looked at half time that the hard yards had been put in, and all we would need would be one more goal and that would wrap this up and we could goto the pub. The UNSWmidfielders were being almost entirely dominated by Luke and Dan and it looked as though we were in control of the game.
However, fate is a cruel mistress and it didn’t quite turn out like that. The first ten minutes of the second half and UNSW were once again applying some real pressure at our end although we looked solid enough, more or less. A few too many balls bouncing in and around the area, one of which led to Garnsey getting booted in the ankle by Chris when he got in the way. A mis-control from Potter looked as though it could be costly but a fine crunching recovery tackle saved the day, he does like a bit of a cruncher does Mr Potter!
Abdul finally made his delayed debut after spending an hour walking around the Eastern suburbs, looking for a pitch that he played on last year and was soon into the action using his electrifying pace, harassing the hapless right back and almost creating something out of nothing. Then disaster struck just minutes later, a ball from UNSW down the left hand side, and crossed into the box, Brian, superlative goalkeeper extraordinaire, comes across to collect, and, doesn’t….he gets his fingers on the ball and then collides with Adam and KABOOM, they’re both in a heap and the ball breaks across, straight to the opposition forward and he has a simple task to stroke it into an empty net. 1-1 Doh! Game on!
Heads are down, but we’re not having this…Neil Baker again breaks down the wing, after a great cross field ball from Dan, skins the left back (again), two people in the box just waiting for a cut back, he shoots, saved by the keeper, the ball loops up and Jonesyis in… but alas, he’s have needed a right angled neck to put that one in with his head, and it bounces just wide.
A great through ball has Jonesy in, one on one with the keeper, but he tries to get the ball over the keeper and it’s saved. Great work by Abdul down on the left, he steams in, takes the ball of the full back and crosses, oooh, cleared by the defence. Now it’s Garnseys turn, also marauding down the wing, Neil Baker is free at the back post, all it needs is an inch perfect cross….so close, but just a bit too short and it’s cleared again.
Would you Adam and Eve it….. UNSW launch almost a carbon copy attack of the first goal, ball across the face of goal, this time, Brian,(still the super goalkeeper extraordinaire), hesitates, and the ball reaches the USNW forward , who rounds the first challenge, and cuts back on the outside, then he shoots across the face of goal. Brian is wrongfooted and sticks a leg out, and expertly puts t he ball in the back of the net. 2-1 to Uni, for frigs sake! 3 shots all game and two goals in 10 minutes, unbelievable.
Neil Baker again breaks down the wing, skins the left back (again), two people in the box just waiting for a cut back, he shoots, saved by the keeper. Great work by Abdul down on the left, he’s certainly having an impact on this game, and then all of a sudden he has an impact on the right leg of the UNSW guy. Ouch! Bad tackle, late, though not dangerous but a definite yellow card. The UNSW didn’t see it quite like that though and got up and threw the ball in Abduls face, in clear view of the referee. It’s all handbags for a second or two until the referee gives them both a yellow. Probably the right decision.
30 seconds later, we’re on the attack again and chasing a ball down in the area, the defender panics and boots the ball against his own hand in the area, absolutely blatant penalty!! But the referee taking refuge in the ‘it’s got to be intentional’ rule, gives nothing. Honestly, in 30 years of watching football, the only deliberate handball in the box i’ve ever seen was by Maradonna. Ah well, sometimes you get them, and sometimes you don’t.
The clock is ticking down, Abdul is involved again, he comes deep to collect a ball, turns, the defence backs off and Abdul shoots, erm…well i think it was a shot.
There’s only one team in it, and we’re almost out of time. Corner to Barnstoneworth, and Garnsey takes it, he hammers it into the box with pace. The goalkeeper flounders, there are bodies everywhere but Abdul reacts quickest and he sweeps the ball into the back of the net. 2-2 Get in!!
Come on lads, just a few minutes to go. Abdul gets the ball again, in a similar position to his last long range shot, but this time, he turns and hammers the ball towards the bottom corner of the goal, it looks good, but amazingly the UNSW keeper actually makes a good save and tips the ball around the post. The resultant corner comes to nothing, and that’s then last meaningful chance of the game gone.
Not a bad result against a fairly decent robust UNSW team, but we should have had the game tied up.
It’s great to be back! Roll on next week’s game against Dunbar.
(Author – Sean M)
MoM – Dan Taylor